Beer Week 2013- Round One: Hotter Than Helles Lager

by Philip R. Whigham

Hotter Than Helles
Cigar City’s Hotter Than Helles Lager- It’s a very punny name for a very serious love letter to a classic German style.

You know the taste of a lager. If you’ve had any of the major American beers (Budweiser, Miller, Coors) you’ve had a lager (not a GOOD lager, but a lager none-the-less.) The word lager comes from a German word which means “to store.” Lagers first emerged around the 15th century and they earned their name through the bottom-fermentation process which requires a long period of aging in a cool dark place, often a cave.

Helles lagers were first brewed on March 21,1894 by Spaten Brewery in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. You see, brewing was SERIOUS BUSINESS in Germany back then (and still is today.) Bavaria was always trying to one-up Bohemia, and Northern Germany was trying to out-do them all. When Spaten first brewed Helles lagers, they quickly became a hit in Germany and abroad.

Flash forward more than a hundred years to Tampa, Florida and Cigar City Brewing. The boys from C.C.B. have done well by Spaten and have created a beer that captures the classic Helles style, while adding their own stamp with Hotter Than Helles. I purchased my six-pack of 12 oz. cans from Knightly Spirits in Orlando, Florida. It is 5% A.B.V.

It pours the color of pale straw (helles is German for “pale one.”) The nose is very light with bready aromas mixing with orange blossom. The head is a respectable three fingers thick, and is almost purely white. It quickly subsides to very thin lacing. The light texture, and the sparkling, lively carbonation, give the beer an energetic body. The taste brings the orange blossom into focus and comes across as orange blossom honey. Bread translates to cereal grains, and a healthy helping of cedar can be discerned. A floral hop tang finishes this crisp and satisfying beer.

The ABCs

Album- The Byrds- Sweetheart of the Rodeo- The addition of Florida native Gram Parsons to the lineup helped a seamless transition from psychedelic pop to country rock on this classic 1968 album. This is a perfect companion to a session with Hotter Than Helles.

Beer- Cigar City’s Hotter Than Helles Lager- Clean, smooth and refreshing, this great Florida beer is a perfect post-mowing-the-lawn refresher.

Comics- The Maniacal Smile- While we’re on the subject of the Tampa Bay Area, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend this irreverent and funny indy comic from the geniuses (and personal friends) at St. Petersburg based Fierce Comics. Find their excellent books here.